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Election 2005: Howard pledges to cut stamp duty

Conservative leader Michael Howard promised today that a Tory government would ease the tax burden for homebuyers.
He announced that the Conservatives would raise the stamp duty threshold on property sales from Labour's new figure of £120,000 to £250,000.

This would free more than half a million homebuyers a year from stamp duty and would mean that more than 80 per cent of home purchases would attract no stamp duty at all.

The Conservatives said that in England and Wales the average homebuyer would see their bill cut by £1,800, while average homes in every region in Scotland would be free of stamp duty.

Mr Howard said today that the Tory plans would 'help young people to get on to the property ladder' and it would be 'easier for young couples starting a family to buy a bigger home'.

The stamp duty tax cut, amounting to £1 billion, takes to £4 billion the total promised Tory tax reductions. The Conservatives have already pledged £1.3 billion off council tax for pensioners and

a further £1.7 billion boost for pensions.

Mr Howard said today 'Six years ago you paid £900 (stamp duty) on the average house in England and Wales. Under Mr Blair it's risen to £1,800. With a Conservative government, it will be zero.

'Mr Blair is spending your money so quickly and so wastefully that he needs to take more and more of it. In contrast, Conservatives will cut all the waste that Labour won't.'

The Conservatives also announced today that the stamp duty threshold for commercial property will be increased - from £150,000 to £250,000.

They said today that the amount of money raised from stamp duty on residential property since 1997 had risen from £675 million to £3.79 billion and this had put 'an increasingly unfair burden on homebuyers, especially young couples trying to get a foot on the property ladder'.

Labour has already said that the Tory plans do not add up.

A Labour spokesman said: 'These are tax cuts they simply cannot fund. The public know you cannot cut taxes and increase spending at the same time with the same money.

'In addition to spending cuts, tax cuts and reduced borrowing, the Conservatives had £15 billion of spending commitments outstanding. This is a recipe for just another Tory economic disaster.'

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